The Morning Mix

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Remember that dominant Florida team everybody was drooling over on Monday? Yeah, they lost last night, to Arkansas, by 11.

It was ugly.

You know what wasn’t ugly? The Michigan-Ohio State game.

It was beautiful.

But enough of my thoughts.

Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – St. Bonaventure’s @ No. 14 Butler
7:00 p.m. – No. 17 Cincinnati @ Providence
7:00 p.m. – No. 18 Minnesota @ No. 12 Michigan State
7:00 p.m. – Baylor @ No. 22 Oklahoma State
7:00 p.m. – No. 24 Marquette @ South Florida
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ Temple
7:00 p.m. – Delaware @ Towson
7:00 p.m. – Southern Miss @ Central Florida
7:00 p.m. – Connecticut @ St. John’s
7:05 p.m. – No. 16 Creighton @ Indiana State
7:30 p.m. – No. 11 Louisville @ Rutgers
8:00 p.m. – Memphis @ SMU
9:00 p.m. – No. 5 Kansas @ TCU
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ No. 7 Arizona
9:00 p.m. – Air force @ No. 15 New Mexico
9:00 p.m. – Iowa @ Wisconsin
10:00 p.m. – Colorado State @ Nevada
11:00 p.m. – Boise State @ San Diego State
 
 
Read of the Day:
Old Dominion announced the firing of 12-year head coach Blaine Taylor yesterday. Taylor was instrumental in the growth of the Monarchs’ program and guided them to four NCAA tournament appearances. His firing comes as the team is struggling through a 2-20 season, and drinking problems from his past may have played a part. But the Universities handling of the situation makes this story both awkward and sad. Make sure you read this article from David Teel. (Newport News Daily-Press)

Read of the Day:
So ummm, Bill Simonson of MLive.com puts Indiana on blast. No, not the Hoosiers. The entire state. Yeah, it’s pretty outlandish. But speaking of the Hoosiers, Simonson believes the referees favor Crean and the Hoosiers and that Big-Ten referees hold personal grudges on certain coaches and take it out on them at Assembly Hall. Read this, but make sure you have your popcorn ready. (MLive.com)
 
 
Top Stories:
Tim Hardaway, Jr., No. 3 Michigan outlast No. 10 Ohio State in overtime thriller: It was billed as the top game of the night and it certainly delivered. Tim Hardaway Jr. hit three big 3-pointers in the second half and helped the Wolverines knock off the Buckeyes in overtime.

If Ohio State-Michigan taught us anything, it’s that college hoops is still great: College hoops is in a down year, right? There are not great teams, correct? Umm. Did you see the Ohio State vs. Michigan game last night? That was fantastic basketball.

VIDEO: Michael Snaer hits another buzzer-beater: For the third time in the last two weeks — and the fifth time in the past two seasons — Florida State star Michael Snaer hit a buzzer-beating game-winner in ACC play.

No. 2 Florida gets whooped by Arkansas, 80-69: Florida looked unstoppable heading in to the game last night against lowly Arkansas. Turns out Arkansas can shoot the ball pretty well, and things can go downhill when you are careless with the basketball. The Gators found out the hard way.

Wichita State loses third in a row, falls to 9-point underdog Southern Illinois: It seems like eons ago when we proclaimed that Wichita State had the goods to dethrone Creighton from the top of the MVC. And just like that, the Shockers find themselves out of the top-25 and losers of three straight.

Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler, Jay Bilas to be international voices of Final Four: Dick Vitale has had a storied broadcast career, but has never been able to call a Final Four on National Championship game. Things will change in 2013.

New Orleans chosen as host for Sun Belt Tournament through 2016: The city of New Orleans, fresh off hosting the 2012 Final Four and the 2013 Super Bowl, has been chosen as the host site for the Sun Belt men’s and women’s championship through 2016, the conference announced Tuesday. Hot Springs, Ark., had been the host site since 2009.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Northern Illinois freshman Akeem Springs has left the program due to “personal and basketball reasons”. (Hustle Belt)

– Tennessee forward Kenny Hall was arrested on Tuesday on charges of driving with a suspended license. Hall was pulled over at 5:05 a.m. for going 70 mph in a 55-mph zone. (The Tennessean)

– Montana forward Kevin Henderson has been suspended one game as a result of his DUI arrest on Sunday. (The Missoulian)

– The status of NC-State guard Lorenzo Brown for the Wolfpack’s Thursday night game against Duke is still uncertain. (Fayetteville Observer)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– A phenomenal list of the top-12 most watchable teams in the country. The Belmont Bruins are once again one of the most watchable teams in the country. The only problem is that they’re rarely on television. (Deadspin)

– You can cross Florida off the list of teams that still have a chance to finish undefeated in conference play. They were the favorites, too. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The latest installment of Andy Glockner’s Bubble Watch. You know what to do with this. (Sports Illustrated)

– On Monday, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel wrote that he honestly believed that the Florida Gators could beat the Orlando Magic, a bad pro team. On Tuesday, Florida lost to Arkansas, a bad SEC team, by 11. Bianchi’s Wednesday column should be rather entertaining. Here is his Monday column. (Orlando Sentinel)

– Some interesting numbers that shed light on just how much money Brad Stevens has earned as a result of Butler’s recent success. (USA Today)

– Jason Lisk explains why you shouldn’t worry about the RPI rankings when filling out your brackets. (The Big Lead)

– Kansas senator Michael O’Donnell has created a proposal that would force Wichita State and Kansas to play each other. Kansas State also included. I kinda like this. (Wichita Eagle)

– A great story about how Butler’s Erik Fromm uses the memories of his late father, who lost his battle with cancer this past weekend, to get him this difficult time. (Indianapolis Star)

– Did the NCAA approve the attorney expenses of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro? That what it looks like. I hope it isn’t true, but this is the NCAA were talking about. So it probably is. (USA Today)

– A solid-read on Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, who has become one of the top players in the Big East this season. The Bearcats face Providence tonight, a school that Kilpatrick nearly attended. (Friar Basketball)

– UConn’s Ryan Boatright doesn’t watch ESPN much anymore because the “Journey to the Tourney” commercial reminds him that the Huskies aren’t eligible for the postseason this year. Daggonit. (New Haven Register)

– A nice profile piece on Otto Porter, who continues to carry th Georgetown Hoyas on his broad shoulders. (Washington Post)

– If you need help reading between the lines of the Blaine Taylor firing, I suggest you read this. (Mid-Major Madness)

– The Drexel Dragons have not lived up to expectations this season, but are trying to right the ship having won four of their last six games. On Thursday they play Old Dominion in the first game since the firing of Blaine Taylor. What are the chances the Drexel Dragons get derailed by an empowered 2-20 Monarchs team? (Philahoops.com)

– UConn legend Taliek Brown is back in Storrs finishing up his undergraduate degree. Brown was the lead guard on the 2003-2004 National Championship team. He’s also famous for sinking a 40-footer in double-overtime against Pittsburgh in the 2002 Big East Championship game. (Hartford Courant)

– To storm or not to storm, that is the question. The SEC issues fines to schools that have students storm the court. Some coaches like, some players love it. Others want it gone from the game. (USA Today)

– Midseason awards are tough to pick, but in the ACC, it’s a no-brainer for Coach of the Year. (Wilmington Star-News)
 
 
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2017 NBA Draft Early Entry List: Who is staying and who is going?

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RETURNING TO SCHOOL

Jalen Adams, UConn
Grayson Allen, Duke (story)
Tyus Battle, Syracuse
Marques Bolden, Duke
Mikal Bridges (story)
Miles Bridges, Michigan State (story)
Bruce Brown, Miami
Jalen Brunson (story)
Jeffery Carroll, Oklahoma State (story)
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
Marcus Foster, Creighton
Devonte’ Graham, Kansas (story)
E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island
Shake Milton, SMU
Chimezie Metu, USC
Allonzo Trier, Arizona (story)
Robert Williams, Texas A&M (story)

DECLARING, SIGNING WITH AN AGENT

Bam Adebayo, Kentucky (story)
Jarrett Allen, Texas (story)
Ike Anigbogu, UCLA (story)
O.G. Anunoby, Indiana (story)
Dwayne Bacon, Florida State (story)
Lonzo Ball, UCLA (story)
Jordan Bell, Oregon (story)
Antonio Blakeney, LSU (story)
John Collins, Wake Forest
Zach Collins, Gonzaga (story)
Tyler Dorsey, Oregon (story)
P.J. Dozier, South Carolina (story)
Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State (story)
De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky (story)
Markelle Fultz, Washington (story)
Harry Giles III, Duke (story)
Isaac Humphries, Kentucky (story)
Jonathan Isaac, Florida State (story)
Justin Jackson, North Carolina (story)
Jaylen Johnson, Louisville
Luke Kennard, Duke (story)
T.J. Leaf, UCLA (story)
Tyler Lydon, Syracuse (story)
Lauri Markkanen, Arizona (story)
Malik Monk, Kentucky (story)
Austin Nichols, Virginia
Justin Patton, Creighton (story)
L.J. Peak, Georgetown
Ivan Rabb, California (story)
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State
Devin Robinson, Florida
Kobi Simmons, Arizona (story)
Dennis Smith Jr., N.C. State (story)
Edmond Sumner, Xavier (story)
Jayson Tatum, Duke (story)
Melo Trimble, Maryland (story)
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga (story)

DECLARING WITHOUT AN AGENT

Shaqquan Aaron, USC
Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure
Deng Adel, Louisville
Jashaun Agosto, LIU-Brooklyn
Rawle Alkins, Arizona
Mark Alstork, Wright State
Jaylen Barford, Arkansas
Joel Berry II, North Carolina
James Blackmon, Indiana
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
Tony Bradley, North Carolina
Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Thomas Bryant, Indiana (story)
Rodney Bullock, Providence
Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall
Jevon Carter, West Virginia (story)
Jason Chartouny, Fordham
Donte Clark, UMass (story)
Chance Comanche, Arizona
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall
Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky (story)
Vince Edwards, Purdue
John Egbunu, Florida
Jon Elmore, Marshall
Obi Enechionyia, Temple
Drew Eubanks, Oregon State
Tacko Fall, UCF
Brandon Goodwin, FGCU
Isaac Haas, Purdue
Aaron Holiday, UCLA
Chandler Hutchinson, Boise State
Frank Jackson, Duke (story)
B.J. Johnson, La Salle
Darin Johnson, CSUN
Robert Johnson, Indiana
Andrew Jones, Texas
Kerem Kanter, Green Bay
Marcus Keene, Central Michigan
Braxton Key, Alabama
Kyle Kuzma, Utah
William Lee, UAB
Daryl Macon, Arkansas
Yante Maten, Georgia
Markis McDuffie, Wichita State
MiKyle McIntosh, Illinois State
Donovan Mitchell, Louisville
Eric Mika, BYU
Johnathan Motley, Baylor (story)
Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas (story)
Semi Ojeleye, SMU
Cam Oliver, Nevada
Randy Onwuasor, Southern Utah
Theo Pinson, North Carolina
Maverick Rowan, N.C. State
Corey Sanders, Rutgers
Jaaron Simmons, Ohio
Jaren Sina, George Washington
Zach Smith, Texas Tech
Elijah Stewart, USC
Caleb Swanigan (story)
Stevie Thompson, Oregon State
Trevor Thompson, Ohio State
Mo Wagner, Michigan
Tevonn Walker, Valparaiso
Thomas Welsh, UCLA
Thomas Wilder, Western Michigan
Johnathan Williams III, Gonzaga
D.J. Wilson, Michigan
Omer Yurtseven, N.C. State

YET TO DECIDE

Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State
Jacob Evans, Cincinnati
Matthew Fisher-Davis, Vanderbilt
Jessie Govan, Georgetown
Donta Hall, Alabama
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
D.J. Hogg, Texas A&M
Justin Jackson, Maryland
V.J. King, Louisville
Dedric Lawson, Memphis
Anas Mahmoud, Louisville
De’Anthony Melton, USC
Jerome Robinson, Boston College

Report: Chris Collins to receive lengthy contract extension

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Chris Collins and Northwestern have reportedly agreed to a lengthy contract extension on Monday morning.

According to Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, Collins, 43, and the university have come to terms on a deal that will run through the 2024-25 season.

The news shouldn’t come as a surprise. Collins, in his fourth year in Evanston, took Northwestern to the first NCAA Tournament in school history. The Wildcats defeated Vanderbilt in the first round and had eventual national finalist Gonzaga on the ropes in the second round before a controversial call swung all the momentum they had.

In four seasons, Collins has a 73-60 (30-42 Big Ten) record, with back-to-back 20-win seasons.

Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald is also reportedly in line for an extension, according to the Tribune.

Sacred Heart’s Quincy McKnight to transfer

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Quincy McKnight, a first-team all-Northeast Conference selection this past season, will transfer from Sacred Heart.

He announced his news via his Instagram page on Monday afternoon, according to Kels Dayton of WTDH, an ABC news affiliate located in New Haven, Connecticut.

McKnight, a 6-foot-3 guard, averaged 18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a sophomore for the Pioneers. He will have to sit out the upcoming season due to NCAA transfer rules but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

This is an all-too-familiar feeling for Sacred Heart head coach Anthony Latina. One year ago, Cane Broome, the NEC Player of the Year, informed him of his desire to transfer. This fall, he expects to make an immediate impact on Cincinnati, a program to reach its eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for any mid-major coach, especially for it to occur for the second season in the row. But you can’t blame McKnight — a two-star recruit coming out of prep school — for wanting a chance to play at the highest level possible, just as you can’t blame low and mid-major coaches from accepting better jobs at bigger schools. This isn’t an isolated situation either. With the rise of graduate transfers in recent years and the extended NBA Draft deadline, many programs currently face uncertainty at this point in time.

As we enter the second live recruiting period of April, Latina and his staff can sell recruits on their ability to identify and develop talent by using Broome and McKnight as examples. That recruiting strategy might best be described as cutting your nose off to spite your face but given the current landscape for mid-major programs, isn’t that pitch a silver-lining in what can otherwise be considered another frustrating spring?

Five Takeaways from the adidas Gauntlet Dallas

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FORT WORTH, Tx. — The April Live Evaluation period had its first of two weekends as events took place all over the country. Many of the nation’s top college coaches were stationed at shoe-company events held by adidas, Nike and Under Armour.

I spent the weekend watching a lot of the top Class of 2018, 2019 and even some 2020 prospects at the adidas Gauntlet in Fort Worth.

Here are some takeaways from the event, including some thoughts on Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford and more.

1. Zion Williamson draws a huge crowd but still has some work on his game

Although he only played a game and a half due to a lingering knee injury that ended his weekend early, the national hype machine for YouTube sensation and Class of 2018 star Zion Williamson is very real. Not many players draw large crowds of outsiders during grassroots events but players from other events and local fans turned out en masse to try and see some of the highlights that Williamson has put together these past few months.

He wasn’t quite 100 percent because of the knee, but the South Carolina native still showed the type of rare burst off the floor that allows the 6-foot-6 Williamson to snare rebounds and score over bigger players. People who hadn’t seen Williamson live before were also stunned at how big and strong he actually appears in person compared to the average high school basketball prospect.

Even though Williamson still has to polish his overall skill level and jumper, there are just times that he looks like a man among boys out on the floor.

Williamson will likely be a destructive force at the college level because of his ability to operate around the rim and in transition but he’s also going to have to make sure he tries to develop some range to keep defenders honest. Still shooting a pretty hard ball on jumpers, Williamson has to work on 3-pointers and free throws during these next few months.

2. Romeo Langford is still working on consistency

Consensus top-five Class of 2018 prospect Romeo Langford is an elite shooting guard prospect thanks to his overall package of athleticism and skills and he’s mostly focused on making sure that he brings his best effort every game.

In the past, Langford was the type of player who could go for 40 in one game and then play sluggish in the next as he needed to make sure that he was dialed in during each contest. Although he led the adidas Gauntlet in scoring playing in three games this weekend, it came with more of the same results as we’ve seen in the past.

In two games, scoring came easy for Langford as he was able to do a lot of damage off of isolations while drawing a lot of fouls. Langford shot 24-for-27 over three games at the free-throw line so that type of scoring ability should translate well at all levels.

When Langford starts to get double-teamed and teams play against him in a physical manner, that is when things start to get difficult for him. Langford can get frustrated with contact at times and he’s also prone to some lapses in intensity.

It’s also fair to say that Langford is very talented and that he’ll also adjust as he adds more strength over time. In a class that doesn’t have many top-flight guards, Langford stands out from the rest because his ceiling is just higher.

3. Immanuel Quickley’s improved perimeter shooting puts him in top 2018 lead guard conversation

One of the biggest revelations from an individual player standpoint came from Baltimore native and lead guard Immanuel Quickley. Already considered a five-star prospect in the Class of 2018, the big knock on the 6-foot-4 Quickley was his lack of a perimeter jumper.

While Quickley’s great size and feel for the game enabled him to dominate at times when he could get in the paint and make plays, opposing defenses found they could sag on him and force him to shoot perimeter jumpers because he was inconsistent.

Quickley appears to have shored up his big weakness. Shooting 48 percent from three-point range (14-for-29) this weekend, Quickley really shoot the ball well as he had confidence off the catch and off the dribble. Since Quickley is already a pick-and-roll maestro who can thread tight passes to teammates, this ability to hit deep jumpers opens up so much more to his game.

Quickley isn’t an elite above-the-rim athlete but he has a ton of things to really like about his game and he’s going to be in the mix among the top lead guards in the Class of 2018. Quickley is down to a final seven of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Providence and Virginia.

This was the type of weekend that should give Quickley a lot of confidence going forward. Quickley got the better of five-star guards Quentin Grimes and Romeo Langford in back-to-back matchups (going head-to-head with those players on some possessions) so he’s been ready to take on all challengers so far this spring.

It should also be noted that Quickley’s teammates, Class of 2018 guard Montez Mathis, also had an outstanding weekend scoring the ball as he has immediately vaulted himself into a larger high-major discussion.

4. College coaches are still starving for perimeter shooters

As the 3-point revolution continues to sweep across many levels of basketball, college coaches are looking for any kind of shooters out on the circuit this spring. The adidas Gauntlet didn’t yield as many perimeter options as some college coaches would have liked.

As Hoop Seen’s Justin Young pointed out, only a handful of players at adidas made 10 or more three-pointers this weekend and most players played in three or four games.

It’ll be interesting to see if any more shooters emerge the second weekend of the April period because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of floor spacing out there right now.

5. Keep an eye on late 2017 signees like McKinley Wright

One of the interesting things about the April period being back is that it gives unsigned Class of 2017 players a chance to compete in front of college coaches. College coaches started to call Minnesota native McKinley Wright when he decommitted from Dayton after Archie Miller took the Indiana job.

So Wright now gets to play high-level competition in front of a number of college coaches who need an available point guard to come in and potentially play next season.

Since opening things up from Dayton and decommitting, Baylor, Butler, Clemson, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas State, Minnesota, Santa Clara and Utah are the primary schools involved. Wright still has three official visits left as he’s o

“I’ve been talking to a couple of schools about maybe setting up a visit but I haven’t really scheduled one yet. But I’m planning on using at least two.”

Wright is hoping to find a situation where he can play right away. He looked good at adidas, but you also have to keep in mind that he’s one class older than most of his competition. Still, with a lot of colleges looking for anyone who can handle the ball and potentially knock down shots, Wright is an intriguing spring recruit that could be a rotation player next season.

Zylan Cheatham transfers to Arizona State

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Zylan Cheatham will continue his college collegiate in his home state.

According to Jeff Goodman, the San Diego State transfer will enroll at Arizona State. He will sit out next season and have two years of eligibility remaining.

“It had a little bit to do with going back home,” Cheatham told Goodman. “But it was more about the basketball situation and that Coach [Bobby] Hurley and I had the same vision for me and for the program.”

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 9.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season for the Aztecs.